It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…
1. Would it be unreasonable to block people from walking through my office?
I’m the manager of a medium business, with 15 full-time and 6 part-time employees in addition to myself. Our building has just been renovated, and it has changed the layout a lot. Three doors now lead off the foyer: the bathroom, the hallway to the general work areas, and my office. The trouble is that our new break room is where an old storeroom used to be, with one door leading into a work area and the other directly into my office.
Staff will walk through my office on arrival to get to the break room, or will walk through to get to the bathroom in the foyer, instead of taking the longer way around. It’s distracting, and potentially presents problems when I’m working with confidential information. I’ve tried locking this door from my side, but people will simply walk through and let themselves in, leaving it unlocked behind them. Worse, it’s not uncommon for staff to simply knock on the door for me to let them through. It seems as though every time this comes with an apology, or a “this is the last time, promise!” so it’s clear the staff know that it’s a problem.
Is it unreasonable to block the doorway completely, such as pushing furniture in front of it, or am I being unreasonable in expecting the door to remain closed and asking staff to walk through a work area on breaks to use the bathroom?
It’s reasonable not to want people to use your office as a thoroughfare to get somewhere else; that’s distracting and can break your focus. It makes sense to just block off that door entirely, by putting a bookcase or desk or something in front of it so it can’t be opened — basically, turn it from a door into a wall. That’s sometimes the only way to solve this kind of thing, because the temptation otherwise does seem too great for people to resist.
2. Should my reference be my direct manager or a more senior manager?
I’m a mid-senior-level employee in the job hunting process. I’m trying to decide who I should use as a reference for my work at my current job. I worked for a firm that was acquired by another larger company, and my former team has been broken up and no one reports directly to each other any more, so I’m not worried about any gaslighting from a manager who doesn’t want to lose an employee. Here are my options:
1. Nancy: My direct boss before the merger. Her title (director) did not change as a result of the merger.
2. Simon: Nancy’s boss, formerly a VP but demoted to director level post-merger. (Almost everyone got a slight title demotion in the merger; Nancy was an exception.) I worked closely with him, and I believe he’d feel comfortable giving me a good reference.
Both Nancy and Simon know me well enough to give a well-informed (and positive!) assessment of me. I just wondered if some/most HR managers would think that a more senior person going to bat for someone would carry more weight, or if they’d prefer to hear from a candidate’s direct manager.
Good reference checkers will usually prefer to hear from your direct manager, assuming that’s the one of the two who worked most closely with you. That’s because they want to be able to get thoughtful, nuanced information, which a manager two levels above is less likely to have about your performance, at least to the degree that your direct manager has.
3. Applying for a different job only three months after starting my new job
I have been working in an entry-level job I enjoy for about three months now. The pay is low, but the hours, the work itself, and my manager are all wonderful. It is also an organization I admire with many prospects for advancing my career here.
However, I came upon a job posting at another organization (Org B) that is more focused on one of my passions (the arts), although it is a slight stretch for me experience-wise. But it is a higher-level job that I would love to be doing and is in line with my degree and ambitions. I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw my hat in the ring and see where it goes. I am not looking to change jobs, but a friend sent me this posting because she thought I’d be a fit. I don’t intend to apply to any other jobs anytime soon.
My question is whether Org B will see it as a red flag about me if they notice on my resume that I have only been in my current position for about three months. I have never stayed at a job longer than two years so far, but I have only been out of college for about five years. What if I explain to Org B (if I get interviewed) that I am happy in my current job, but was so excited about this job opportunity with them that I had to go for it? How is this going to look to this Org B? Will it reflect poorly on my as a candidate?
If you had a track record of longer stays at previous jobs, I wouldn’t be horribly alarmed to hear “I’m happy in my current job, but this role was so exciting to me that I had to give it a shot.” But against a backdrop of no long-term stays, and you thinking about leaving your current job after only three months? Yeah, I’d be concerned that the whole picture taken altogether was one of someone who wouldn’t stay long-term with me either.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot anyway, because who knows, maybe the interviewer won’t see it that way … but factor into your thinking more broadly that you’re starting to create a job-hoppy pattern, and you want to make sure you counteract that with future moves.
4. How to tell an interview-offering company that I accepted a job somewhere else
I have a question about how to turn down an interview with Company B after I’ve already accepted an offer from Company A. My job at Company A is temporary, so when it’s over I may want to apply for a position at Company B again. What should I say in my interview-declining email so that I make the best impression on the Company B? I was thinking of starting it with Dear Mr. X, and possibly telling him where I’ll be working. Is that too much information? I just like to be friendly and honest with people, but sometimes can’t tell when I’ve hit TMI territory.
Or is it even appropriate to email my decline-to-interview in the first place? Should I call?
Nope, definitely email it. It’s not so urgent that it warrants the interruption of a phone call, or any kind of back-and-forth conversation. An email like this would be totally fine: “I’ve actually just accepted a position as X at Company A so I need to withdraw from your hiring process. However, I really appreciated the chance to learn more about your work, and since my role at Company A ends in December, I may be reaching back out to you then!”
(If you’ve already had an initial interview with B, they may take note of this. If you haven’t talked with them at all yet, they’re less likely to care — but there’s still nothing wrong with saying it.)